Benghazi Emails: Should ABC News's Jonathan Karl Reveal His Misleading Source?

On Friday, May 10, ABC News's Jonathan Karl reported about the editing of certain points in the Benghazi case. Most importantly, he reported, the edits scrubbed a reference to Al-Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar Al-Sharia and to Islamic terrorism. Recently, CNN has obtained evidence that contradicts Karl's initial reports. CNN's Jake Tapper reported that the actual e-mail from then-Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes appears to show that whomever leaked it did so in a way that made it appear that the White House was primarily concerned with the State Department's desire to remove references and warnings about specific terrorist groups so as to not bring criticism to the department. In addition to the issue regarding the mention of terrorist groups, Karl also alleged that numerous other talking points were also altered and edited.

Prior to CNN's scoop on the issue, Karl and ABC News had continuously referred to the e-mails and laid them out as direct quotes from the e-mails. As it turns out however, Karl's source who sent in the e-mails to him had been paraphrasing rather than forwarding actual e-mails, which led to the miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Here is an example of the difference in the e-mail as reported by Karl and the actual e-mail as produced by the CNN

Karl's version said that Rhodes wrote: "We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don't want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting."

The actual e-mail on the other hand reads: "All – Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation. There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression. We can take this up tomorrow morning at deputies."

There is no mention at all of the "State Department," no mention of "agency equities," and most importantly, there is also no mention of "working through the talking points" in the actual email.

In addition, Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett has come out and said that a "Republican" source was behind the e-mails sent to Karl. 

Considering that this has now come out, Karl will be put under pressure to reveal his source. At the risk of putting journalistic integrity on the line, Karl will be faced with a tough decision of whether to reveal his source for the American people and reveal who lies at the root of the controvers

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Shahab Ahmad

Undergraduate Political Science student at LUMS, Pakistan. Interested in anything and everything related to foreign policy and international relations.

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